What format is right for me? – Part 1: The DVD

By Jonathan Fouch

Many of us remember that famous scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold unveils the Christmas lights he so proudly put on his house. He brings the whole family outside to watch the unveiling: his wife, the in-laws, his parents, the children. You can feel the anticipation as they talk amongst themselves in the cold. They know how important it is to him.

Then Clark goes to turn the lights on.

Nothing happens. The bulbs remain off. The family stares. Clark frantically tries to recover the moment lost. You can feel his frustration as he tugs and fights with the cords. 

Eventually he gets them to work. Jubilation! 

It’s a great scene and a classic holiday movie. 

When it comes time for your special moment – watching your digitized films with your loved ones – we want to avoid a Griswold-style snafu.  

So in this four-part series, we’re going to explore the main ways to digitize your movies and photos: DVD, USB, Digital Download, and Streaming. We’ll talk about the advantages of each format so you can choose the one that is the best for you and your family. 

Skip ahead to Part 2 – USB 

Skip ahead to Part 3 – Direct Download

Skip ahead to Part 4 – Streaming

DVD – The “old school” option

We all know what DVDs are. Simply pop one into the DVD player and start the show.

The archival-quality DVDs that we use have a 100-year lifespan, so your movies will last a century. VHS tapes, by comparison, were only meant to last 10-25 years; they’re decaying as you read this.    

However, it’s questionable whether future generations will watch DVDs. It’s clear that Internet has officially displaced the DVD player as the primary means to watch movies. While I don’t foresee the DVD player disappearing entirely, its fading popularity is something to consider. Will your children and grandchildren watch DVDs? I would say no. 

But if you’re a fan of DVDs, and want to stick with them, your best bet is to convert your old films to archival-quality DVDs now, and then revisit this question in 10 years.  

Sometimes I steer the computer-savvy, DIY crowd away from DVDs if they’re looking to edit or share their home movies. It is much harder to get your movie data off of a DVD than it is with USB or Digital Download. 

In the end, DVDs are the way to go if you want something time-tested, durable, and easy to use. Pop in and press play. 

DVD Summary:   

Pros: Easy to use, best choice if you’re not a computer person

Cons: The younger generation may abandon DVDs as time goes on


Jonathan Fouch is the founder of History Creators. He has spent the greater part of his 9-year career helping families build their legacy through technology. You can read his full biography here.